The NBA season is well underway, and teams are gaining a clearer picture of their rotations and paths towards success. An infusion of youth has made the NBA exciting this season, but who are the most impactful/most disappointing rookies from this year’s class? Let’s take a look, shall we.
Pascal Siakam: The young power forward wasn’t projected by many to go in the first round, but went 27th overall to the Toronto Raptors. He’s responded by becoming an analytical darling, recording 1.1 win shares (best in the class) and 0.3 box plus/minus (best in the class minimum 10 games played). Siakam has 5.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in 18.7 minutes per game.
Malcolm Brogdon: Brogdon slipped to the second round of the draft at 36th overall to the Milwaukee Bucks because of his lack of offensive upside. So far, the shooting guard has defied this projection, earning rotational minutes with the Bucks (21.3 minutes per game) and averaging 7.6 points (4th highest in the class), 2.9 assists, and 2.2 rebounds per game. He also is right behind Siakam in win shares with 0.8 so far.
Jamal Murray: The seventh overall pick of the draft already looks like one of the best, especially after earning the Rookie of the Month honors in November. The guard has become an important part of the Denver Nuggets’ rotation and has the highest points per game of the rookie class (9.5 ppg). Murray appears poised to take minutes from the struggling Emmanuel Mudiay and injured Gary Harris.
Dragan Bender: The fourth overall pick was considered raw coming into the draft and so far it has shown. Bender has struggled to crack the rotation of the Phoenix Suns and is averaging just 2.7 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 11.7 minutes per game. Bender is also at -0.2 win shares and hasn’t provided any analytical promise. Bender will have the opportunity to improve and could see a rebound in the near future.
Brandon Ingram: Ingram was the second overall pick of the Los Angeles Lakers and comes with a great deal of upside. The team has given him room to grow, as Ingram is averaging 27.1 minutes per game, the most of the draft class. However, Ingram is averaging 7.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game, and is at -0.5 win shares. Ingram is still very raw, and needs to bulk up before making a bigger NBA impact. He has shown flashes, but has struggled to adapt to the NBA game as quickly as people had hoped.
Jakob Poetl: While Toronto has found success in Pascal Siakam, their ninth overall selection has struggled. Poetl is averaging 2.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 11.4 minutes per game (all less than Siakam). Poetl had a chance to seize minutes in the rotation with the departure of Bismack Biyombo, but has largely been passed over for these minutes by Siakam and Lucas Nogueira. Poetl will have to adjust quickly or get permanently passed over.
With just over a third of the year finished, this NBA rookie class is now fully ingrained in the culture of the league. With teams positioning for big-ticket free agency, rookies have less time than ever to make a permanent mark on their teams. It remains to be seen who the best players of this class will be.Read next
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